Enjoy private-pool luxuries among world-class wildlife viewing
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Activity adventure | Off the beaten track | Safari | Spa | Wildlife
Found within the malaria-free Eastern Cape, this private reserve is a unique conservation initiative that reintroduces animals to the wild, allowing them to roam freely. Across 7,500 hectares of grasslands, bush and rolling hills, it’s home to everything from giraffe to cheetah with the Big Five – lions, elephants, buffalo, rhinoceros and leopards – well represented. As you’d expect, there’s a strong focus on conservation along with community aid, including training, craft workshops and charity outreach. It’s all just a 50-minute drive from Port Elizabeth Airport and makes an excellent end – or suffix – to a drive along the Garden Route.
The Amakhala Safari Lodge ranks among the reserve’s finest properties. It’s set in a valley of indigenous bush on the reserve’s northern boundary, the lodge’s thatched huts and stone-capped roofs seem as much part of the environment as the nearby giraffes. It’s all beautified by African tribal design, with traditional beadwork and handicrafts adding a sense of place among the luxuries; each of the 11 suites feature private plunge pools and chic lounge areas. It’s a favourite among honeymooners too, with sparkling wine on ice – as is the South African way – placed next to double baths scented with aromatherapy bubbles.
Upon arrival you’ll be greeted with a refreshing welcome drink – a sign of the service to come. Resident chefs prepare deliciously diverse menus using local, seasonal produce; expect multiple courses that start with homemade soups and breads, followed by such traditional favourites as venison and ostrich, cooked over coals. In true South African fashion, guests are also often treated to typical braii barbecues, held in the tranquil African bush boma around a central fire. It’s a tradition that dates back to prehistory, when tribes would form protective circles to ward off the continent’s predators.
Along with your suite’s private plunge pool and sunbeds, there’s also a central pool and deck with spectacular views over the lush African bushveld. Here, you’ll be able to spot everything from roaming antelope to big cats. However, you’ll also want to head out and explore. Local experts will take you out on daily game drives, bringing you up close to the reserve’s myriad wildlife. There’s also the opportunity to enjoy a cruise on the Bushmans River, spotting animals coming down for their drink as you sip on your own sundowner. Lastly, there’s the option to explore next-door Addo National Park, home to an elephant population that’s grown so much that rangers have had to secrete contraceptives in melons.
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